If you Google the words “lose weight fast”, literally dozens of crash diets, detox teas and diet pills will appear in your web browser. Sadly, most if not all of these methods are both unhealthy and ineffective ways to shed unwanted pounds.
According to a recent article published by the Obesity Action Coalition, fad diets aren't for the faint of heart. Not only can they slow your metabolism, but they also increase the risk for gallstones, loss of lean body mass and malnutrition. Not to mention that you most likely will not lose weight fast or — even if you do drop a dress size — you'll most likely be unable to maintain your weight loss goals.
“Extreme diets where you're cutting out entire food groups like carbs should be monitored by a doctor or a professional,” says Cara Clark, a certified clinical and sports nutritionist in Orange County, Calif. “This is not usually good for most people. My favorite thing to tell them is if you're cutting carbs to lose weight, expect to be tired and dumb. Our brains thrive with using carbs as fuel. They are essential to our health.”
So, rather than resorting to a starvation diet, try incorporating these 12 healthy habits into your lifestyle to lose weight fast instead.
Eat More Often
People often mistakenly cut too many calories when trying to lose weight fast. Instead of depriving yourself with a starvation diet, Clark advises her clients to combine carbs with fat and protein and eat more frequently each day.
“My approach is to tell them to eat real foods,” she says. “Combine carbs with fat and protein. These are called macros. Eat every three to four hours and get five different colors of fruits and veggies a day. You can not eat too many veggies, so load up every meal!”
The complex carbs from veggies are digested will not only help you feel full longer. They'll also help you lose weight fast, flush out excess water weight and make it possible for you to avoid the tiresome task of counting calories.
Drink More Water
About 65 percent of the human body is made up of water, so it's important to replenish the water you lose each day. According to a study conducted among 10,000 adults aged 18 to 64 over a three year period, drinking plenty of water and eating water-filled fruits and vegetables significantly improves your ability to lose weight fast, especially if you are overweight or obese.
Not only does staying hydrated speed up your metabolism, in most cases, it also helps boost your immune system, improves digestion and clears up your complexion. In fact, research studies have shown that drinking two 8-ounce glasses of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner results in consuming 75 to 90 fewer calories at each meal, ultimately resulting in a faster way to meet your weight loss goals.
Eat a Variety of Foods
If shopping for healthy food makes you break out in a cold sweat, rest assured losing weight fast is easier than it appears. Avoid crackers, chips, candy and other processed foods and shop primarily in the produce section for a rainbow of colors to fill your plate instead. This is the simplest and most effective way to maintain stable blood sugar by keeping your body burning fat as fuel.
“If you're losing weight by burning fat, you can't lose it too quickly,” says Clark. “You will keep your body in fat-burning mode by following our principles: Eat every three to four hours. Always combine your macros. Eat real food. Eat five different colors of fruits and veggies a day and drink at least 80 ounces of water a day.”
What Not To Eat
We all know that potato chips and soda taste great going down, but eating processed foods and refined sugar can often make you feel sluggish and tired in addition to gaining unwanted pounds. The best way to lose weight fast is to stick to whole foods like our ancestors ate. If you think your great-grandmother wouldn't have had access to it, dump the junk from your diet for a healthier lifestyle.
“Food is medicine,” says Clark. “Often people ask what they can do or add to achieve health and it's not about one food or even one supplement. It's about figuring out the best foods for your own body. We are all unique. We get our clients feeling well, having a stable blood sugar then we start to get to the bottom of their inflammation. Some foods cause inflammation for one person and not another!”
Do High Intensity Workouts
They say that abs are made in the kitchen, but that doesn't mean you should forgo the gym just because you've started eating healthy. In reality, working out is just as important as good nutrition if you want to lose weight fast.
One of the most effective ways to torch calories at the gym is by incorporating HIIT workouts into your regular exercise routine. Researchers from the University of New South Wales recently discovered that women who performed three HIIT sessions per week lost roughly 7 pounds in a 15-week period, while participants in the same study who did lower intensity workouts actually gained almost 3 pounds.
“Even after you've completed a high-intensity workout, your body continues to burn calories for several hours,” says Desi Bartlett, a certified personal trainer in Los Angeles. “Every time your heart rate goes up, it has to come back down. You actually become more fit the more times your body has to recover. With HIIT, you increase the intensity quickly then have a short recovery time, so your body has to work harder to recover multiple times. This allows you to burn more fat and calories.”
Cut Back On Sugar
The World Health Organization recommends that people consume less than 10 percent of calories from refined sugar per day. In reality, the average American consumes a whopping 83 grams of sugar, more than triple the recommended daily amount.
Eating too much sugar has been linked to an increased risk of tooth decay, type 2 diabetes, cancer and, of course, obesity. So, although it may seem daunting at first, cutting back on sugar is a simple step you can take to improve your overall health and lose weight fast.
Did you know that just one teaspoon of sugar contains 16 calories? And they contain absolutely no nutritional value. So, rather than consume empty calories, why not try trading steel cut oats for sugary breakfast cereal, plain yogurt with fruit for sweetened yogurt or black coffee for your daily caramel Frappucino?
Everything in Moderation
Although eating candy and drinking alcohol can potentially deter your weight loss goals, you won't have to swear these treats off for good. In fact, according to Clark, you can absolutely still expect to lose weight fast without giving up your favorite indulgences. “I personally eat dark chocolate almost every day, if not daily!” she says. “I drink wine at least once or twice a week.”
Clark is careful to eat and drink in moderation, but she still manages to maintain a healthy lifestyle, without depriving herself at all. “I don't personally have a weight loss goal, but I need to feel good all of the time. This doesn't hinder my health at all. I believe in moderation. If you're trying to reach weight loss goals, it's important to restrict alcohol or decrease tremendously. Alcohol and sugar are the top foods that obstruct weight loss, but you definitely don't have to give them up forever!”
Timing is Everything
Although everyone's body is different, Clark recommends making a timeline for yourself to encourage yourself to lose weight fast. Setting an end date to reach your ideal weight is a great way to motivate yourself to stick to a healthy eating plan. It will also help you stay on track when you're tempted to dig into a calorie-laden dessert on date night.
“I love when my clients have an event that they are wanting to feel great by,” says Clark. “Establishing a timeline is so important. Otherwise, the urgency is lacking. Losing weight is 75 percent feeling motivated and 25 percent actually having the right plan. If I'm being honest, there's a lot of good dieting info all over the Internet. The trouble is actually staying motivated.”
Find Your Motivation
If you're having trouble filling your plate with fruits and veggies, take this into consideration. Losing weight fast isn't just a great way to enhance your appearance. It will also give you an added zeal for life.
“The number one reason to lose weight is to increase energy,” says Clark. “I've never met anyone who has said they don't wish they had more energy. Making goals that are for health and not vanity are important because that's what makes a lifestyle different than a diet.”
If you're having trouble sticking to a healthy eating plan, remind yourself of all the reasons you decided to start lose weight fast in the first place. “Think of your why's,” says Clark. “Healthy, family, personal. Our why's keep us on the right path more than the weight loss itself. People are truly sick of diets and appreciate the real food approach.”
What to Expect
Losing weight fast is definitely possible, but dropping too many pounds too quickly won't give you long-lasting results. Instead, aim for an attainable goal, which can best be determined by consulting in person with your doctor or a registered dietician.
That said, you can most realistically expect to lose at least a pound a week. “They say one to two pounds a week is best and most sustainable,” says Clark. “Often times, during a cleanse week at Cara Clark Nutrition, we get some people losing up to a pound a day by eating more real foods that are working for their body by burning fuel.”
Although this isn't the norm, Clark advises you should definitely see a noticeable difference in one to two weeks. “Ten days!” she says. “If you haven't started seeing and feeling results by ten days, there's something missing.”
Methods to Avoid
Although it may be tempting to look for a quick fix for your weight loss woes, it's important to avoid fad diets to lose weight fast. According to a recent study from the University of Exeter and Bristol, yo-yo dieting may actually sabotage your weight loss goals because the brain interprets these diets as short famines. Instead of losing weight fast, they cause your body to fire signals to your brain to store more fat for future shortages, unintentionally derailing your attempts to drop those last ten pounds.
“The yo-yo affect can be really hard on your body,” says Clark. “It damages many of your organs as well as your digestive system. I think we can all agree that we want to be healthy. Focusing on overall health is the ultimate goal.”
Why It's Worth It
Although you may still crave junk food from time to time, losing weight fast is a great way to jump start a healthy lifestyle. Not only will you look and feel better, but you'll significantly lower your risk of developing serious health issues like liver disease, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea.
“A healthy weight is incredibly important in our overall health," says Shirin Badrtalei-Shah, DO, MPH, a physician at Kaiser Permamente in Southern California. "Being overweight and making poor food choices affects us in many different ways. It plays a role in our overall mood, how well we can focus and concentrate, our sleep and our energy level."
"It also affects every one of our organ systems. A healthy heart and blood vessels, for example, lowers the risk of developing diseases like heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure and strokes. When we exercise and eat a low-fat and low sugar diet, we keep our engines going the way they should. Many of us take care of our cars better than we take care of our own bodies!"
Here's to having a sensible, sustainably healthy lifestyle!